Tigers righty K's 10 Royals for 4th double-digit punchout game of season
By Kyle Beery
DETROIT -- Justin Verlander entered Friday's start with four wins in his past five decisions since the beginning of June. Having already erased what was a rough start to his 2016 campaign, vintage Verlander was on display against the Royals at Comerica Park.
The Tigers veteran allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits over seven innings in the team's 4-2 win over the division-rival Royals. Verlander (9-6, 3.91 ERA) tied a season high with 10 strikeouts, the fourth time doing so this season.
It was the 35th double-digit strikeout game of his career. This is the first time he has hit double-digit strikeouts in four or more games since the 2013 season.
"He did an outstanding job," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "That was one of his best outings of the year, no question."
Verlander, whose pitches consistently hit the high 90s, gave up an RBI double to Salvador Perez in the sixth inning over the head of right fielder Steven Moya. A throwing error by second baseman Ian Kinsler allowed a second run to score. Verlander bounced back to get three straight outs and then got the Royals out in order in the seventh.
He said it was important to shrug the mishap off, and it felt great to have his offense provide a little late run support.
"I think that's one of those things, being around for a while, that allows you to kind of slow the game down for a bit and not let things escalate from that point forward," Verlander said. "Whatever happens behind you, especially if a guy makes a mistake, you want to pick him up. You don't want to dwell on the mistake."
Verlander seemed to put any memories of a shaky start to the season way in the past Friday night, working on Royals hitters with all four of his pitches. Ausmus was impressed by Verlander's ability to mix his pitches.
"He used the curveball, instead of a put-away pitch, as more of a pitch to get ahead of hitters, first pitch or 1-0 to get back in the count," Ausmus said.
The Tigers' win to start the second half makes them 19-7 at home since May 16. Verlander thinks the win can help the team build momentum for the stretch run.
"It's pretty key to get off to a good start here in the second half," Verlander said. "I know last year, we got off to a horrendous start in the second half. And we've played extremely well at home, so it's nice to start off here in front of the hometown fans, and hopefully we can just continue to play well."
Kyle Beery is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.